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New South Wales Traffic Authority Switches to Macs 350

MacGyver writes ""In what may well be Apple Computer's largest coup in the Australian enterprise space, the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) will deploy 1200 G4 iMacs across 140 registry offices." This isn't just a Mac story: the RTA statement noted, "The Apple rollout is a continuation of RTA usage of open standards-based software and systems. The further adoption of open source is being undertaken to provide more choice of vendors and to guarantee RTA systems are providing value for money."
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New South Wales Traffic Authority Switches to Macs

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  • People deserve better. Companies too. ;)
  • how does going to a mac provide them with more options for purchasing decisions?

    thats like saying your moving from california to idaho for a better selection of produce.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 17, 2004 @02:27AM (#8889910)
      More software purchasing options, dumb-ass.

      Since Macs run just about everything people use Windows for (Office, E-mail, calendars, accounting, etc.), and can run almost all *nix software, they are the #1 platform for variety of software choice. There isn't even room for debate.

    • by daquake ( 307570 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @03:23AM (#8890142) Homepage Journal
      Reminds me of when at a tech meeting I stated I was an Apple Certified Technician, I was asked what the hell I do, help people color coordinate their mac purchases?
  • by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @01:55AM (#8889741) Journal
    It's been a long time since I've heard a story like this that didn't involve a university or some other education-based organization.

    I think Apple can make an excellent case given the rising amount of spyware, viruses, and worms on the PC as well as selling their BSD-based OS.

    Good deal and hooray for competition! It's about time (again).

    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Saturday April 17, 2004 @11:49AM (#8891667) Homepage
      I was thinking about that last night. Remember the commercials that Apple used to run? There would be a guy in an office doing a presentation or something and things would go wrong. People in the audience would start shouting out "Press ctrl-alt-delete" or "c:\(blah)" and on an on. The one guy would stand up and say "Get a Macintosh!".

      Those commercials would be so great right now. Have ones of people getting viruses, or spyware problems, or just the usual PC headaches too. Apple's got a great platform, they need to ADVERTISE it.

      • Aaah, those were the days (Okay, not really, but the commercials were great). I remember one about some dad who picked up an interactive learning CD about dinosaurs for his kid. He pops it into the PC's CD-ROM, and it doesn't work. He's sitting there reading cryptic error messages about SETUP.EXE or something, and his kid gets his coat on. "Where are you going?" The Father asks.

        "To the neighbors'. They have a Mac."
  • by JohnMajor ( 772052 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @01:56AM (#8889746)
    This is quite a great achievement for Apple. They currently are doing very well with their advertising campaign and showing off the capabilities of their products. I have been a hard-line OSS user for probably about 5 years and have been very impressed with the new eMac, Powerbook and G5, the new MacOS X too is very refined and well done and I love how the command line utilities are still available(compared to Win). I think all governments should be trying to distribute their computing schemes to several different OS for security purposes alone and should at least not be locked into deals with Microsoft. Linux on the desktop I just don't feel has the simple usability of MacOS X yet so I am very glad too see Apple getting such a large deployment. I am sure their will be more to come as I doubt they will hear many complaints about there G4 iMacs.
  • by Lattitude ( 123015 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @02:12AM (#8889827)
    ... the G4s will be used as point-of-sale terminals for its counter staff to handle RTA customers transactions across "prepared business applications" as well as for "collecting data and payments and issuing licences, registration certificates and receipts for various transactions"...

    So they are using full blown Macs for a cash register, attaching a laser printer for receipts and certificates and running some specific software. Seems to me a cheaper solution might be found using a dumber device and a web app or two.

  • funny. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @02:19AM (#8889874) Homepage
    This isn't just a Mac story: The further adoption of open source is being undertaken

    The irony here is, there wouldn't be a mac/apple story if it weren't for Apple having gone to OS X and a more open software philosophy. It looks like, were it not for open source, much of the revitalization that Apple has undergone in the wake of OS X would not have occured, and "Apple is dying!" would be all over slashdot - as it as prior to OS X. Haven't seen those trolls for a while, so maybe it's telling.

    Of course, now there'll be 15 replies with, "Apple is dying!" or "BSD is dying!" or such, just to spite me. :P
  • by bartron ( 772079 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @02:19AM (#8889876)

    My guess why they went for Apple is probably because Darwin is bassed on BSD and the source is available. It may not be open in the sence that Linux is but it is more open then Microsoft ever will be.

    Also, with Apple meing a majoe vendor they have a certain sence of security when it coemes to future support. Apple have a better chance of sticking around than some shop making custom Linux boxes

  • What value? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dafoomie ( 521507 ) <dafoomie @ h o t m a i l . c om> on Saturday April 17, 2004 @02:27AM (#8889909) Homepage
    I don't see the value in using 1200 Macintoshes for simple data entry applications which could be accomplished by dumb terminals. Nothing against Apple or the Macintosh, but this is like replacing the Fords and Chevys at the public works with 1200 brand new Mercedes-Benzes.
    • Re:What value? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by anothy ( 83176 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @06:03AM (#8890556) Homepage
      no, it's not.

      the x-term + back-room server model works great if you already have an IT staff on-site for other reasons. but it involves running the server and keeping the terminal hardware up. again, x-terms are great. i've admin'd sites with that model, and it's wonderful to be able to just replace the whole unit and have to do near-zero config when one breaks. but they do break. on our floor of ~30 NCD x-terms, we swapped out about one a month.
      note, also, that x-terms aren't as cheap as you'd think - i'm constantly surprised by how expensive they are, actually. that is, if you're buying from a reputable vendor, but the dirt cheap ones usually have a corresponding increase in problems.

      i've done the x-term thing, and i've admin'd mac networks. for about 90% of the applications, the later has better cost factors. not to mention usability factors. remember that the most expensive thing in this question is almost always human time.
      oh, and i've also admin'd large Win32-based networks. that makes sense about 0% of the time.
    • Re:What value? (Score:2, Informative)

      by reverbca ( 104682 )
      See my detailed reply to this further down [].
    • Re:What value? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy_R ( 114137 )
      Consider the tech support savings in having 1200 machines that won't run 99.9% of trojans/spyware/junk when dumb users click on things without thinking.
  • Cool! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 17, 2004 @02:41AM (#8889963)

    That means I get to listen to iTunes next time I go to fail my license exam.
  • There is a precedent (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 17, 2004 @03:00AM (#8890051)
    Another state police force in Australia already use Macs as their base machine. That is in Queensland (QLD).

    Or at least they were in the 1990s. I'm a bit out of date on my Mac info.
  • Good, yet bad. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shplorb ( 24647 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @03:08AM (#8890086) Homepage Journal
    Whilst I like the idea of using Macs, somehow I think that considering the intended use of them, this is an ideal situation in which to deploy x-terms. The article says that they already use Sun gear, so why not roll-out a load of Sunrays? - They'd use less power and last longer because they have no moving parts.

    That being said, the Macs are a better choice when compared to PC's... they might be a bit more expensive up front, but the build quality is excellent and people find them easier to use, so the cost of maintaining and supporting them is going to be lower.

    One of the interesting things in the article is that they can use the swivel mount to show people their license photos easily. Pretty nifty.

    Of course, I have no idea about why they made the decision because I don't work there - I also live across the border in SA.
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @03:38AM (#8890194)
      When used with the smartcard readers they feature, you can take your session with you. So you are working, need to go somewhere else, just pull the card and go. When you insert it into another system, your session will be there, just as you left it.

      I'm a real fan, provided you aren't using intense applications. If your stuff does a lot of graphics, you'll quickly find that the CPU and memory it requires makes the servers more expensive than just getting dedicated computers. However for centralized data entry (as they'll be doing) Sunrays rock.
      • Except, that you need to realise that many of these registries are located in remote locations, with bandwidth back to the data centre around 128-256 Kbits/sec. In this situation Sunrays require a local SUN server which adds quite a bit to costs.
      • With a networked display protocol like X, there's no particularly good reason for putting all of your eggs in a single large and expensive basket on the server end.

        You can deploy a similar, X based archtecture using Linux, or indeed Sun/HP/IBM kit. Make the desktop cheap diskless systems which support PXE booting, put in a load balanced array of smaller and cheaper servers on the back end instead of a large server, individually they work out very much in the same price range as a desktop PC. Examples would
    • but the build quality is excellent

      My two-week-old 12" Powerbook has a broken keyboard and Airport Extreme card. Excellent build quality my ass :(.

    • Re:Good, yet bad. (Score:5, Informative)

      by reverbca ( 104682 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @06:20AM (#8890598)
      As I posted further down, we chose iMacs firstly because of the screen. Operators can just put it where they want it, which made OH&S happy due to reduced possibility of future lawsuits, etc. from people who have been squinting and cheapy monitors on weird angles.

      The fact that they are a UNIX-based system by default is great, and after the hardware was all but decided on there was some talk of running Linux on them, but that never eventuated.

      We tried Sunrays, but they didn't suit what we wanted to do. We looked pretty seriously at them, since we are replacing Javastations in this rollout (generation before Sunrays), but the didn't do everything we wanted.
    • somehow I think that considering the intended use of them, this is an ideal situation in which to deploy x-terms. The article says that they already use Sun gear, so why not roll-out a load of Sunrays? -

      Xterms? you gotta be kidding: they always been overpriced and underpowered (this has to do with the X spec, not hardware design btw).

  • by reverbca ( 104682 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @06:14AM (#8890587)
    ... let me say that the story doesn't do the project great justice.

    The main reason for choosing iMacs over a Linux/BSD/whatever solution (which we did try side by side with plenty of others) was OH&S.

    Yes, Occupational Health and Safety. They took one look at the screen design, the way each individual user could move the screen where they wanted it and they were pretty much sold. We approached another supplier for a similar solution, only to get a quote for a movable screen of equivalent specs that put it about AUD $1000 over the price of the iMacs.

    We were keen to Switch to Macs from our Javastations because they make a great product, they are supported by a "big" name (the rest of our our system is Solaris), and we can perform remote admin and stuff easily.

    Other big-name suppliers were pushing to get in on this but someone with the authority to make such decisions said "no Windows in registries" after Blaster/Slammer/et al took out most of the rest of the organisation while our Javastations kept on kicking on.

    As with any public-facing organisation, the amount of customers we would have had to say "sorry you've waited half an hour already, please come back tomorrow, assuming we've fixed it by then" to if our registry network was taken out would have made for a bigger news story than this one by far.

    On another note, the press release that seems to have made it out mixes two different things we are doing - changing to the iMacs here, which running our custom Java app (plus Mozilla and a few other bits and pieces), and investigating open-source as a general concept. There's plenty of OS there all throughout the registry network, but the corporate desktops are all still Win2k/Office/Exchange/Novell jobbies, the replacement of which is being investigated with closed and open solutions from varying vendors.
    • MOD THIS UP (Score:4, Funny)

      by Evil Pete ( 73279 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @07:18AM (#8890717) Homepage

      Nothing like inside information to set all the wild theorising in slashdot to rest. Oh yeah. Slashdot. Sorry, continue the wild speculations!

    • by rmlane ( 589573 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @10:11AM (#8891191)
      And as one of the guys who did a little work on the Apple bid I can confirm that the info posted by reverbca is accurate, and could have could have come from from someone within the RTA. The details of their internal IT are correct, anyway, as are the reasons Apple got the deal.

      Another reason the iMac's moveable screen was such a hit was that it allows the RTA staffmember to show the customer an image of their licence photo before the licence is printed, which happens at the registry. (New South Wales driving licences are pinted on demand on a plastic card the same size and thickness as a credit card, and include a passport style picture. A transparent holographic image is then laminated on top to make them harder to forge.)

      But if YOU were given a spec that looked like this: Replace our EOL'ed Javastations, must have

      LCD screen on movable arm

      fast, reliable Java implementation

      strongly prefer UNIX

      can't be Windows

      Easy integration with head office wintel software a bonus

      Would you pick anything but an iMac?

  • surprise surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zpok ( 604055 ) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @05:47PM (#8893884) Homepage
    It should come as no surprise that a lot of posts are in the vein of "they should have used xxx instead of Apple, because Apple is proprietary/expensive/..."

    Which shows a lot of people who shout RTFM all day are above RTFA. I think it's pretty cool to see macs deployed in open source situations. Best of two worlds and such...

    The funniest posts of course are in the vein of "they should of called my cousin Ned" (translated from "build yourself").

    Which shows a lot of people don't know what "Cost" and "Cost of ownership" and associated factors are.

    Even with Apple's recent track record, I doubt self-built kits will outlive a bunch of macs without blowing some fuses and minds, but whatever.

    I think the appropriate response to Apple and NSW TA would be "Good on ye, mate!"

When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt. -- Henry J. Kaiser